Importing a motorcycle to the U.S. is a highly regulated process with many steps that need to be followed. The consequences for not properly following these steps are harsh. Your motorcycle is at risk of being seized at the border, exported, or destroyed when the correct process isn't followed. For this reason, it's extremely important to be fully aware of all the requirements for importing a motorcycle.
To import a motorcycle into the U.S., you'll need to comply with CBP, DOT, and EPA Regulations. The specific requirements will vary based on whether or not your motorcycle meets U.S. safety and emission requirements.
All of these requirements and more are contained within our Comprehensive Guide to Importing a Motorcycle to the U.S. With this guide, you'll have everything you need to safely and legally import your motorcycle.
When you are learning how to import a motorcycle from Canada and even overseas, you have to make sure the motorbike conforms to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) standards and regulations.
Both agencies mandate certain requirements are met before importing motorcycles to the United States.
Regulations for emissions from light-duty motorcycle are the key to passing your EPA regulations.
Under Section 202 of the Clean Air Act, motorcycles are heavily regulated to ensure emissions are reduced for both motorcycles and vehicles as much as possible. Regulations must come back clean for soot, smog and other air pollution emitted from motorcycle engines.
To comply with DOT regulations, import motorcycles need to adhere to federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS) and other regulations. Motorcycle parts that are inspected closely include:
If you have motorcycle parts or motorcycles as a whole that don’t conform to DOT standards, you have some work to do. Amend your imports before importing motorcycles to a US port of entry.
Obtain a DOT form HS-7 and an EPA 3520-1 form for motorcycle registration purposes once you learn how to import a motorcycle. These forms help you pass the customs clearance process quickly and receive registration to the proper U.S. state for motorcycle imports.
Motorcycles imported to the USA without achieving the proper customs clearance process guidelines will be sent back or destroyed on-site. For example, if you are importing classic motorcycles to USA or importing a Harley Davidson motorcycle from somewhere else, the odds are that these bikes need significant changes before they receive customs clearance success in America.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the importing information you need to pass emission testing. Following these requirements ensure your imported motorcycle stays put and won’t be destroyed.
Motorcycle manufacturers must comply with label requirements. Manufacturers of motorcycles must affix to each bike a label near the handle bars that can’t be removed without destroying it. This label contains:
When you are importing motorcycles, you need to find a reputable international motorcycle shipping company to help you move your imports. Perform the following international motorcycle shipping checklist:
Are you shipping your motorcycle imports by sea or air? International motorcycle shipping companies should give you both options. Companies ship motorcycles internationally for motorcycle show tours, collectors, motorcycle enthusiasts and more.
Decide if you want your motorcycles packed in crates and what kind of protection they will have in cargo containers when traveling via ship. All motorcycle imports are in crates when utilizing air freight. Shipping companies use containers to ship multiple imported motorcycles at once.
Have you considered roll on, roll off service? Utilized by vessels, this service allows your motorcycles to be physically driven both on and off the ship. When on board the boat, the motorcycle is secured with tie downs and skids.
For an additional fee, motorcycle importers can schedule deliver of imported motorcycles directly to the customer's front door. Door to door service is a popular option for delivery of classic motorcycle.
If you are shipping imported motorcycles in bulk, a more affordable delivery option is port to port. This option allows you to pick up motorcycles at shipping ports or delivery terminals. You can pick up imported bikes at the US port of entry destination once they are cleared by customs officials.
Motorcycle and vehicle manufacturers are required to maintain records on manufactured products for five years from the time of the manufacture date. Importers can refer to these sources if they have any trouble when they are learning how to import a motorcycle. These records include:
You need the following to file for customs clearance for your motorbike imports:
Importing a classic motorcycle to USA borders is a difficult process. While classic motorcycles stay in high demand, they are difficult to conform to the US customs clearance process. Motorcycles that meet requirements in Europe likely don’t meet requirements on the other side of the pond.
Did you know you can apply for a temporary importing compliance exemption for classic motorcycles that don’t adhere to every importing regulations? This exemption is available as long as you agree not to sell or lease your classic motorcycle until it qualifies for customs clearance or receives a permanent exemption. Work with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to see if you qualify for such exemptions.
You would think it’s easier to import a motorbike to Canada from USA borders but that’s not always the case. Just having someone riding that bike over the Canadian border is not the solution.
Utilize a motorcycle shipping company to help you learn how to navigate motorcycle imports across the border successfully. The shipping company will work closely with the CBP to meet export requirements.
You must submit your motorcycle title to the CBP 72 hours before you plan to import an American motorcycle across Canada’s border. The title is submitted to the border agent when you are ready to cross. Remember that all border crossing locations require different title requirements so work closely with a freight company and Licensed Customs Broker that does their homework before importing a motorcycle to Canada.
You know you have success when the Canadian border crossing agent stamps the motorcycle import title (don’t forget the original one) with a sign of approval. When your motorcycle receives border crossing approval, pay taxes assessed to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), which are based on your motorcycle’s declared value.
Did you know that importing motorcycle rules changed in 2018 when importing motorcycles to Australia? You are now able to import:
Importers can also import motorcycles without using a motorbike dealer. Another added bonus is the Australian Government has removed the $12,000 special duty on used motorcycle and car imports in 2018.
While car imports to Australia must be constructed for right-hand driving, there are no such mandates on motorcycles, which have universal controls. Only minor modifications are needed to comply with Australian import laws.
Japanese motorcycles are very popular in the United States. Think Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha. These brands and others are popular Japanese motorcycles that need importing to the USA.
Importing Japanese motorcycles is big business in America because the motorbikes are known to be durable and safe. They also offer good gas mileage and have readily available and affordable interchangeable parts.
When you are importing motorcycles to USA from Japan, you should:
Europeans love American muscle cars. So it just makes sense that they also love American muscle motorbikes, known as Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
Those seeking to learn how to import a Harley from USA will need to find a cargo vessel to ship your Harley Davidson bikes overseas. While this process saves you money, it’s also slower. It can take 10-20 days to ship motorcycle imports to Europe depending on if they leave US east coast ports of entry or US west coast ports of entry.
If you can afford to spend more on freight costs, your Harley-Davidsons can ship via air freight. This method takes no longer than two days to get your import motorcycles across the pond.
Duty import costs in Europe are 6 percent for motorcycles with engines higher than 250cc and 8 percent for bikes with motor power of 250CC engines or less. Calculate an approximately 20% additional tax that varies depending on the motorcycle’s final destination. .
Did you know you can drive your Harley-Davidson in Europe for a short time with a U.S. license plate? The only catch is you must drive that glorious American machinery straight to the European inspection authority for new inspection. There you will receive temporary plates for a five-day period and must purchase insurance.
Your Harley Davidson motorcycle imports receive a thorough European inspection before becoming allowed on the roads. These motorcycle parts receive a close inspection:
Remember that Harley Davidson lights must contain an ECE logo on the plastic outer coverings to comply with European importing laws. Most Harley-Davidson motorcycles do not have the ECE logo, so be prepared to purchase replacement light covers ahead of time.
Bring these import papers with you during Harley-Davidson inspections:
These documents allow you to receive your new registration and European license plates to make your customs clearance process easier in Europe.
If your commercial invoices aren’t filed properly, you’re going to have a customs clearance problem. Make sure all of your T’s are crossed and your I’s are dotted on your paperwork.
Remember that your forms must be filled out in English. The following import paperwork forms are reviewed closely at all U.S. ports of entry on both coasts:
These forms, used for foreign trade dealings, contain the minute details about your overseas products. This information includes:
Packing lists are checklists to make sure cargo provided by shippers or freight forwarders is accurate. The commercial invoice and the packing list work hand-in-hand to help customs agents achieve clearance success. The packing list also confirms imports for customs officials.
Carriers issue bill of ladings (BOLs) by carriers to the shipper of your imports. A bill of lading is critical for exporters seeking payment and importers needing merchandise. If something goes wrong with your imports, a bill of lading makes sure you receive compensation for lost, damaged or delayed goods. A list of international shipping details are in this form, which also includes a tracking number to monitor your motorcycle imports.
An arrival notice acts like your phone alert, letting you know that your goods have arrived safely. This alert happens when your goods arrive safely in the harbor of your U.S. port of entry.
Don’t jump up and down just yet though. Your motorcycle imports are only released once your customs agent makes arrangements for the pickup of imports after the arrival notice is received.
All of these documents work together to help importers with the information they need to receive customs clearance process success.
Incoterms are three-letter import trading terms used in both domestic and international sales of import contracts. These terms outline the transfer of goods responsibilities for both buyers and sellers. Customs brokers ensure you use the correct Incoterms for your goods during the clearance process.
If you're new to importing, Incoterms is likely an unfamiliar concept to you. If you want to learn more, check out our article "What Are Incoterms?"
There are many U.S. ports of entry in the U.S. on two coasts where importers can import their goods. When you import bikes from USA, customs agents help you find which west coast port of entry or east coast port of entry works for your business needs.
Sign a power of attorney for Licensed Customs Brokers to:
If you are importing motorcycles from manufacturers in other countries, it is also important to follow those separate importing regulations. You must locate the proper import duty, or tax, for your motorcycle imports, which require a customs bond.
Working with a Licensed Customs Broker allows you to clear customs during the motorcycle import process. When you are learning how to import a motorcycle, Customs Brokers handle all your import requirements. Utilize a Customs Broker when:
However, a lot of brokers like AFC International, will require bonds on all imported cargo regardless of shipment value.
There are also two customs bond types available to you. Figure out which customs bond works best for you and your motorcycle imports below.
A single entry bond works for those importers seeking to import a single shipment for a specific port of entry. These bonds work well if you only import once in awhile and your import goods have a low-cost value. Only use this bond if you import less than four shipments per year.
A continuous bond covers all of your shipments with international carriers at every US port of entry for the whole year. A US customs continuous bond is important for importers and shippers with a large number of entries that use several ports of entry annually. These bonds also handle shipments with high value. A continuous bond caters to those importing motorcycles to the USA several times a year. Continuous bonds also have an easy renewal process.
Motorcycle imports require customs bonds. To receive the correct customs bond to achieve customs clearance success, figure out the customs bond type you need today. We also offer cargo insurance through our network of supply chain companies. Let us walk you through purchasing more insurance that protects you and your imports.
Are you still undecided on how to import a motorcycle? Does the importing process seem daunting? If importing motorcycles seems like a daunting task, contact AFC International today to allow our Licensed Customs Brokers to handle all of you importing issues. The unique set of skills that a Licensed Customs Broker provides can make the importing inspection process a simple one.
Our value-added customs brokerage services work together to provide you with an importing process that allows you to concentrate on your business. Have questions? Click the bottom right box to chat and we can answer you right now! Clear customs easily with us today by requesting a customs bond quote! We are here to serve you!